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Soil nitrogen dynamics in a river floodplain mosaic


Shrestha, J; Niklaus, P A; Frossard, E; Samaritani, E; Huber, B; Barnard, R L; Schleppi, P; Tockner, K; Luster, J (2012). Soil nitrogen dynamics in a river floodplain mosaic. Journal of Environmental Quality, 41(6):2033.

Abstract

In their natural state, river floodplains are heterogeneous and dynamic ecosystems that may retain and remove large quantities of nitrogen from surface waters. We compared the soil nitrogen dynamics in different types of habitat patches in a restored and a channelized section of a Thur River floodplain (NE Switzerland). Our objective was to relate the spatiotemporal variability of selected nitrogen pools (ammonium, nitrate, microbial nitrogen), nitrogen transformations (mineralization, nitrification, denitrification) and gaseous nitrogen emission (N2O) to soil properties and hydrological processes. Our study showed that soil water content and carbon availability, which depend on sedimentation and inundation dynamics, were the key factors controlling nitrogen pools and processes. High nitrogen turnover rates were measured on gravel bars, characterized by both frequent inundation and high sediment deposition rates, as well as in low-lying alluvial forest patches with a fine-textured, nutrient-rich soil where anaerobic microsites probably facilitated coupled nitrification-denitrification. In contrast, soils of the embankment in the channelized section had comparatively small inorganic nitrogen pools and low transformation rates, particularly those related to nitrate production. To conclude, environmental heterogeneity characteristic of the restored section, favors nitrogen removal by creating sites of high sedimentation and denitrification. Of concern, however, are the locally high N2O efflux and the possibility that nitrate might leach from nitrification hotspots.

Abstract

In their natural state, river floodplains are heterogeneous and dynamic ecosystems that may retain and remove large quantities of nitrogen from surface waters. We compared the soil nitrogen dynamics in different types of habitat patches in a restored and a channelized section of a Thur River floodplain (NE Switzerland). Our objective was to relate the spatiotemporal variability of selected nitrogen pools (ammonium, nitrate, microbial nitrogen), nitrogen transformations (mineralization, nitrification, denitrification) and gaseous nitrogen emission (N2O) to soil properties and hydrological processes. Our study showed that soil water content and carbon availability, which depend on sedimentation and inundation dynamics, were the key factors controlling nitrogen pools and processes. High nitrogen turnover rates were measured on gravel bars, characterized by both frequent inundation and high sediment deposition rates, as well as in low-lying alluvial forest patches with a fine-textured, nutrient-rich soil where anaerobic microsites probably facilitated coupled nitrification-denitrification. In contrast, soils of the embankment in the channelized section had comparatively small inorganic nitrogen pools and low transformation rates, particularly those related to nitrate production. To conclude, environmental heterogeneity characteristic of the restored section, favors nitrogen removal by creating sites of high sedimentation and denitrification. Of concern, however, are the locally high N2O efflux and the possibility that nitrate might leach from nitrification hotspots.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:25 Sep 2013 14:02
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:00
Publisher:American Society of Agronomy
ISSN:0047-2425
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2012.0059
Official URL:https://www.agronomy.org/publications/jeq/abstracts/41/6/2033?access=0&view=pdf

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